When I did my first ever perm, the hairdresser applied some petroleum jelly on the tips of my ears and around my hairline before applying the relaxer. She told me it was to protect me from chemical burn. I thought that was sufficient.
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However, she didn't apply any on my scalp. So at some point, I started to feel a burning sensation and I remember her telling me to persevere until I could bear it no more. I did, but my scalp burnt to the point that I had wounds with some hair sticking on the scalp.
The common cause of scalp burn is when the relaxer is left on the hair for longer than necessary. Always ensure your hairdresser follows the time indicated on the relaxer instructions. When a relaxer is applied correctly, your scalp should not burn or even tingle.
Some women burn more easily than others because they have sensitive skin. Some people argue that basing the scalp should be a personal preference, but have you ever wondered why your hairdresser wears gloves whenever s/he applies the relaxer on your hair?
To avoid scalp burns, applying a scalp base will protect your ears, hairline, scalp and any other part of the head that may be affected by relaxers.
Apart from applying the base, there are other things you can do to avoid your scalp burning.
• Ensure your hairdresser bases your hairline – all round and the ears. For women who have sensitive scalps, the entire scalp must be based.
• Avoid exercising at least two days before applying relaxer since sweat tends to open up pores making your scalp a likely culprit of burning.
• Never wash your hair before relaxing it. It should be at least a week old after the last shampoo before you relax it.
• If you have any sores or irritation on your scalp, do not apply a relaxer; wait until the scalp is completely healed.
• If your scalp itches, don't scratch it. Rub it gently, otherwise you open up the skin exposing it to the harsh chemical.
• Some hairdressers have the habit of applying chemical on your hair and stepping; sometimes they may end up forgetting that they left behind a client with chemical on their hair. Look at the clock and alert your hairdresser when the time is up.
• Don’t allow your hairdresser to smooth the relaxer through your hair using the teeth of a comb as this could scratch the scalp, allowing the chemical to come into contact with the skin. They should instead use the back of the comb or their hands.
• Your hairdresser should not just use any chemical on your hair. Relaxers are classified according to their strength from super, regular to mild. Know what suits your hair and ensure you read the label on container before your hairdresser applies it.
• Let your hairdresser know if you are the type who burn easily so that they know how fast to work on your hair. In case you start burning, speak up. If it is a specific area burning, your hairdresser can spray some oil sheen to temporarily relieve the sensation.
• In case you get a scalp burn, do not allow your hairdresser to spray anything that contains alcohol on your hair as this will burn it more. Apply petroleum jelly as this will also help the scab fall off easily.
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